Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Key Moment – During the seventh caution flag of the night, Brad Keselowski took two tires on his pit stop to regain lost track position while Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch took four. That got Kes the lead, for a series of restarts but kept what was likely the fastest car from having the speed to pull away. While Busch faded into the background, that decision would ultimately result in Johnson and Keselowski finishing first and second.
In a Nutshell – Jimmie Johnson started on the pole and dominated the first 165 laps of the race. Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski owned the next 161. But when the money was all in the center of the table, it was the two combatants for the 2012 championship who stood toe-to-toe, trading haymakers until Johnson prevailed on the green-white-checkered restart that finished the race.
Dramatic Moment – On a restart with eight laps to go, Keselowski led Johnson through Turns 1 and 2, then Johnson took the lead heading into Turn 3 before Keselowski drove it deeper to the inside to regain the top spot. As the cars came into Turn 4, Keselowski got loose and Johnson cleared him — for a moment. But the No. 48 car got loose on exit, a mistake which opened the door to the inside for Keselowski, who shot back to the inside as the top two drivers in the point standings headed down the frontstretch. The cars made contact and very easily could have reopened the door for half of the other contenders in the Chase to get back into the title hunt. Both drivers kept it straight, and it ultimately led to a fantastic final restart to settle the race.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around The Water Cooler This Week
The final three restarts of the race were captivating, if not controversial. On Lap 316, Keselowski brought the field to the green, armed with only two fresh tires yet rolled up to speed rather rapidly. Johnson and Busch both complained about Keselowski getting on the gas too early, about three car lengths before entering the
Kyle Busch notched his fifth top-5 finish of the Chase and fourth in the last five races. Although Busch still wouldn’t be in title contention had he made the Chase, thanks to two finishes of 28th or worse, the No. 18 team is still battling hard and laying the groundwork for another successful season in 2013. More importantly, Busch is displaying the right attitude one year after the fateful incident that nearly derailed his Cup career.
Two drivers were mathematically eliminated from title contention after Texas. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s disappointment is understandable, after he missed two Chase races. But Kevin Harvick is the other, and that is a surprise. Harvick made a habit last year of not being on the radar at the beginning of races only to show up at the end and log quality finishes. This year, he has qualified better, with an average start of 14.3 but struggled to go anywhere but backwards once the green flag falls. With three races left, just four top-5 finishes has the No. 29 team poised for arguably their worst season in nearly a decade. Harvick scored his first top 10 of the 2012 Chase by coming home ninth at Texas but to say it is too little, too late would be an understatement.
In what might have been a foreshadowing of things to come for Harvick at Texas, a parachutist involved in the pre-race ceremonies was flying in with a Texas state flag dangling from his feet. As he approached his landing, the counterweight that held the flag down bounced off the side of Harvick’s car. Could you have any worse luck? In a rare display of sensibility by NASCAR, at least series officials let the No. 29 crew take the car back to the garage and fix the damage without making them drop to the back of the field for an unapproved adjustment. No word on whether the team left the parachute tied to the back of the car during the race… it just seemed like it.
If any driver had the built in excuse to mail it in for the 2012 Chase, it is Matt Kenseth. Kenseth is a short-timer at Roush, leaving for Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season. Add in the fact that there were important parts falling off of his car at the beginning of the playoffs and he was all but eliminated by the time he came home 35th at Dover; those circumstances would typically scream “Surrender!” for all involved. Instead, he won two of the next three races and notched a fourth-place finish this weekend at Texas. Kenseth is now tied for fifth in the point standings with Jeff Gordon and has a chance to end his Roush Fenway Racing career on a very respectable note.
So did Danica do wrong by Brad? There was a lot of talk Ms. Patrick, who owned the pit stall in front of the title contender was blocking Keselowski’s exit off pit road during much of Sunday’s race. Certainly, it seemed the major “overshot” mistake at the finish, which cost Keselowski eight spots was little more than driver error from the No. 2 car. But two things to consider here. One, Patrick is driving a car that’s owned by Stewart-Haas Racing, receiving Hendrick chassis and engines which makes her the equivalent to the enemy. Two, it’s not like Patrick has spent the season starring in Disney movies while moonlighting as an Altar Girl on Sunday mornings. Did it cost Keselowski the win? Absolutely not. But where there’s Smoke, there’s fire… (and Danica).
The Nationwide Series has one of the best championship battles out there with two races left. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is tied atop the list with Elliott Sadler, making their battle a Romney/Obama style toss-up with two races remaining. How shocking these drivers accomplished this drama without the benefit of a playoff system, Cup drivers stealing the top 10 spots every week (making their full-time competition a moot point) and nothing other than good, clean, hard competition. Can you believe it? Series ratings are up this season. Who would have thought…
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
The infield grass at Texas Motor Speedway delivered several devastating blows. First, it bit AJ Allmendinger when he spun off of Turn 4 into the infield on lap 109. As Allmendinger’s No. 51 caught the infield grass, the splitter and everything below the front bumper was forcibly removed from the car. Ten laps later, on the restart from Allmendinger’s caution, Juan Pablo Montoya headed to the infield, simply trying to avoid cars stacking up in front of him and left with a soiled HUGGIES Chevy torn to pieces. Finally, on lap 329, Mark Martin was bounced off of the track coming out of Turn 4, running out of room in heavy traffic and lost his splitter to the evil infield grass monster. I don’t know what Texas has in that patch of grass, or how sharp the greenery is underneath but it’s tearing cars to shreds unlike any “infield spin spot” we’ve got on the circuit today.
Marcos Ambrose had a pedestrian run turn putrid when he blew a right front tire going into Turn 1. He ended up sliding down the retaining wall on the outside of the track, trailing a shower of sparks with another disappointing race in the books. Since the crew swaps were made at RPM, on the eve of the Chase, Ambrose has scored a surprising six finishes in eight races of 24th or worse. Although the swap seems to have been beneficial to Aric Almirola, it has been a disaster for Ambrose.
In the lap 119 melee that resulted in Montoya going through the infield, Bobby Labonte had his nose pushed in and something important underneath the hood damaged, resulting in quite a bit of smoke and some time behind the wall for the No. 47. Labonte did make it back into the race and was running at the finish but he was 51 laps down, not exactly the way he wanted to follow up a rare top-10 performance.
Kasey Kahne was going at it with Jeff Gordon when the two cars got together during the last 100 miles. The result was a cut left rear tire for Kahne, who ended up in the wall and went from a top-5 contender to 25th. Hardcore Kahne fans will say Texas ended his title hopes, but we all know better; he was already out of the deal long beforehand.
Denny Hamlin suffered a heartbreaking defeat at Martinsville last weekend when a post fell off ohis master switch to all but end his title Chase. Just to make sure there was no doubt he was done, Hamlin ran a pedestrian 20th at Texas and was last among Chase contenders who didn’t make contact with the wall thanks to a blown tire.
If Jeff Gordon didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all in 2012. Fighting for first with Keselowski, around Lap 250 the No. 24 car was clearly building speed as the night went on. But a blown tire, leading to an unscheduled pit stop cost Gordon track position; subsequent contact with Kasey Kahne nearly totaled the car. Instead of a top-5 finish, which Gordon probably deserved, he was scraping and clawing just to come home 14th.
The “Seven Come For Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Ending the race in first and second is certainly fine fortune in and of itself. However, the way Johnson and Keselowski were going at it over the last couple of restarts, they are both very fortunate that they didn’t leave Texas looking up at Clint Bowyer in the point standings.
Kyle Busch reported a vibration under the hood around the midway point of the race on Sunday, but the power plant in Busch’s No. 18 stayed together after it appeared to be developing an issue. He came home in third place.
Kurt Busch had an uneventful run for a change in the No. 78 and joined his brother as the only two non-Chase drivers to finish in the top 10.
Tony Stewart spent the first 260 laps of the AAA Texas 500 flailing around in the high 20s and low teens in the standings. But a pit call that gave Stewart some good track position led to the defending champ coming home with a top-5 finish.
Although it wasn’t obvious from the television coverage, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a solid run. He bounced around in the teens for the first 240 laps of the race before steadily climbing up to just outside of the top 10 and eventually culminating in a seventh-place finish. Not bad for a driver who wasn’t even in the car two weeks ago…
Chevy – 700
What’s the Points
For the second week in a row, Jimmie Johnson scored “max points.” He led the most laps and won the race, which is good for a total of 48. Although Keselowski finished second, he still lost five precious markers to Johnson and is now seven points behind heading into Phoenix.
Although not officially eliminated, the remainder of the Chasers are just squirrels looking for a nut. Clint Bowyer is 36 points out of the lead and is now the only other driver with a mathematical shot to hold the top spot post-Phoenix. Kasey Kahne sits alone in fourth place, a total of 58 markers out of the lead and needs to climb within 46 next Sunday to have a chance come Homestead. Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth are neck-and-neck for fifth place, 72 points out of the top spot and one point ahead of Denny Hamlin.
Tony Stewart and Martin Truex, Jr., fighting hard are tied for eighth place. Greg Biffle, who looked to be poised to make a title run when this Chase thing started, is now the last guy who is going to get an invite to Las Vegas. And even that, at this point is no guarantee with one more DNF giving the edge to Kevin Harvick behind him.
As was noted earlier, Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have been mathematically eliminated from title contention, although we all knew that about four races ago. The best of the rest is Kyle Busch, who is 79 points ahead of Ryan Newman for the 13th position and the title of Mr. Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda.
Overall Rating (from one to six beers, with one being a total snoozer and a six-pack an A+ effort): The race started off looking like it was going to be another intermediate snoozefest, with Johnson totally dominating the first 100 laps and very little action going on at the front of the pack. In the end, the top two drivers in the point standings were trading paint and hanging it all out at 190 mph with the grit and determination of the drivers who used to run this series because they loved it rather than for the big paycheck. Although it wasn’t an instant classic, due to the lack of overall action in the first 300 laps, this one still deserves four quality adult sodas for the final 20 laps alone. Fortunately, we’re done with “D”-shaped cookie-cutters for the year and things are looking like this championship will stay intense all the way to the finish.
Next Up: We’re packing up and heading to the Desert Southwest for 312 laps on the reconfigured Phoenix International Raceway. Although it won’t be the same since they made the dogleg on the back straight so much easier to navigate than it used to be – causing drivers to take shortcuts through the infield – it should still be an exciting event. Johnson is riding the momentum and looks pretty focused after being roughed up by Keselowski late in the race at Texas. He’s on a mission to take the last four races in a row but Kes doesn’t look like he’s going to go away without a fight. Note the grandstands are already sold out; interested fans can still sit on Rattlesnake Hill (although that really seems like a dumb place to camp out).
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i’m trying to remember, does texas have drain grates in the front stretch to deal with the rains, when they come?
best part of the race was the restart before the g/w/c. been a long time since i saw racing that hard. nice to see that brad wasn’t point racing to get back in the lead. figured when g/w/c came out that 4 tires was going to win over 2 tires, especially after the aggressive driving that was done previously.
i won’t give up on brad k not being champion this year.
again i watched the beginning of the race, watched johnson take off and then flipped back to check on it until the last hour or so.
wonder how much hendrick paid jr johnson to sit on the pit box. like the 48 crew needs a “good luck charm”.
For the second weekend in a row I didn’t watch the race because Johnson was on the pole and I just don’t want to see him win another championship. I’ll give the devil his due; the #48 team is the best and deserve what they have accomplished. They are on top of their game and that’s how you win championships. I’m just tired of them winning and refuse to watch it happen. And to tell you the truth I really haven’t missed it.
The last thing this sport needs is the 48 to win again. It’s boring and stale.
Kind of like most of the nascar races these days.
JJ leading the points poised for a 6th championship. I think I want to throw up. I have tickets for Phx this weekend and hope the weekend isn’t blemished with JJ and Chad kicking everyone’s rear end
The end to the beginning of the end.
Didn’t watch much of this one as I had 4-1/2 to 5 hours of racing watched the night before and it wasn’t the Nationwide race either where once again we could have a reminder on Denny Hamlin’s racing (for others) etiquette lesson. (Who does this arrogent sob think he is anyway?)I’d rather watch a World of Outlaws broadcast anytime…….
Sorry, a little excitement at the end doesn’t make up for watching the 48 dominate.
I watched the race in between commercial breaks of the football game and doing chores around the house. I no longer waste 4 hrs of my time on NASCAR.
Probably won’t watch much of the next 2 races. Not interested in tuning in to see Johnson & Chad get another 10 race trophy for their case.
Johnson winning the cup championship would be the worst thing that could happen right now. If he does then RIP nas$car. I’m done either way.
spot1. couldn’t agree more about denny. stay in cup and don’t complain about getting squeezed by the “idiot” nationwiders. i think his frustration on his cup season has runneth over
Sorry, it looks like the 48 is going to win another championship making a mockery of the whole chase system. NASCAR can serve it to me but I don’t have to eat it.
I’m in agreement with most here….NASCAR is getting “Johnsoned”. Sure he’s the best, but I will not watch when he’s leading. Thank God for the NFL.
Wouldn’t it be nice if having the 48 keep winning championships would make Nascar dump the chase?
A fan can dream right? LOL.
Yeah I too would rather watch a WoO event than NA$CAR but isn’t it funny people bitch about JJ but yet Kinser has won twenty championships and JJ is working on six!
Please, Brad, please win the chase because if the 48 wins another one, I strongly believe that I will be done as a NA$CAR fan.
Not a good idea for drivers and crew chiefs talk about “logging laps” in the middle of the race. Points racing and logging laps – great. I logged laps over to the NFL at that point.
Don’t know anything about WOO racing, but sure was exciting race on Speed.
Exciting finish for sure though. Not sure 15 laps makes it a classic, but better than most lately.
There they go again!! I don’t think Junior Johnson won 50 SPRINT CUP RACES as ESPN pointed out as he was on the JJ pit box! Not sure how long it was Winston Cup – but I know Junior never won a SPRINT CUP RACE !!!
damn that phantom debris caution.
I started the season with mild interest at Daytona. My interest since has waned on a weekly basis until I didn’t even turn on the race this weekend during the NFL commercials.
No fan likes to watch a sport where they know the outcome before the competition even starts, so why even bother anymore. After more than 40 years I’ve decided to pull my sponsorship due to a general lack of interest.
Josh Wise finished the Sonoma race! Please get your facts straight…
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